Fresh from the Field, July 5, 2018

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Fresh from the Field is a weekly album showcasing transformative impacts made by partners supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Editor: Falita Liles                                                                                              July 5, 2018

Success Stories 

Sean Flynn UConn Photo Fresh from the Field NIFAImpacts

Probiotics Effective in Keeping Cantaloupes Safe to Eat

Just as probiotics can bring a wide range of benefits to your health, they can also make produce safer, according to new University of Connecticut research on cantaloupes.

This is good news, because the bumpy, net-like surface of a cantaloupe provides plenty of hiding places for bacteria to attach and weather the washing and disinfection steps in processing, allowing safe passage for pathogens to consumers’ plates.

Professor Kumar Venkitanarayanan and his research team set out to look at probiotics that have been used effectively as biosanitizers for the control of plant and soil pathogens. Settling on five-to-eight types of bacteria, they tested the abilities of these probiotics to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria on circular rinds of cantaloupe.

NIFA supports this research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read the full story at UConn Today. Sean Flynn/UConn Photo.

News Coverage

Fresh from the Field NIFAImpacts Wheat USDA photo

Copper Absorption in Wheat, Increases in Yield

For decades, researchers have known that a deficiency in copper in alkaline, sandy, or organic soils compromises plant fertility and reduces grain and seed yield. This is true in wheat, one of the most important staple food crops in the world.

At Cornell University, Olena K. Vatamaniuk and Mark E. Sorrells are working to better understand what is required for the uptake and delivery of copper in wheat. Vatamaniuk’s group has recently discovered that the functions of two proteins are integral to copper uptake and delivery to reproductive organs in a model species, Arabidopsis thaliana. Now, Vatamaniuk and Sorrells are using interdisciplinary approaches to provide fundamental insights into the function of pathways in coordinating copper transport processes and fertility in wheat and its proxy, Brachypodium. More broadly, they are establishing the physiological, molecular, and genetic mechanisms underlying copper uptake, delivery to reproductive organs, and fertility. This new knowledge will aid the improvement of cereals productivity and grain yield on marginal soils and soils currently in cultivation.

NIFA supports the research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read the full story at Cornell Research. USDA photo.


Fresh from the Field NCSU student analyzing listeria sample

Attack of the Listeria Clones

Recent research indicates that not all strains of Listeria monocytogenes are equally virulent. Serotype 4b strains represent an unusually problematic Listeria clade because of their frequent implication in human illness. Their in-depth analysis of serotype 4b strains of L. monocytogenes included samples from food and food processing environments, humans, other animals, and the natural environment. The North Carolina State University team found that despite L. monocytogenes being ubiquitous in the environment, certain serotype 4b clones acquired unique genetic determinants associated with hypervirulence. One of these emerging clones has been responsible for three listeriosis outbreaks since 2014. Interestingly, these clones were not common in foods or food processing environments, but were over-represented in surface water samples.

NIFA supports this research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read the full journal article at PubMed. Photo: Sophia Kathariou/NCSU. 

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Fresh from the Field NIFA impacts July 5